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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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146                               LIFE   OF
mind. Thus he attributed the great ruling thoughts
of life and history to the grand discovery of the
fifteenth century. He also constituted himself the
scientific defender of his predecessor, Columbus, whoso
merits his contemporaries and successors notoriously
endeavoured to traduce. Huuoboldt's critical investi-
gations have established beyond a doubt that Columbus
had commenced his great work of discovery at the
suggestions of his own mind and opinions; that he
made tise of traditions and. suppositions of former
ages till they became his independent opinion,, and
the spring to bold adventure and unfettered action.
In the year 1S4<03 HumboMt published Academic
Dissertations 011 his ascent of the Cluinborasso, aud oil
the mean elevation of the continent; also a critical
memoir on some important positions in Guiana ; be-
sides this he re-commenced the work which had boon
interrupted in 1828—his universal physical description
of the world, under the title, " IvOSMOH/* which lie
now contimied on a more extended plan, and was also
superintending the publication of his brother*& posthu-
mous works, being at the same time an active mem-
ber of the academic committee for the publication of
the works of Frederic the Great. In January, 1842,
the king summoned him from these labours by honour-
ing him with the command to accompany the coixrt
to England, for the christening of the Prince of Wales.
Although Humboldt wes honoured by this distinction,
and by the respect paid him by the English court, ho
also did honour to the king's journey by his person-
ality, and the intelligence of England worshipped him
wherever he showed himself.
In May of the year 1842, Humboldt received an-
other royal favour on the 102nd anniversary of the
ascension of Frederic the Great About this time
Frederic William IV. instituted a peace class of the
order of Merit, founded by Frederic the Great only as
a military order,* which was henceforward to decorate
* Under Frederic the  Great, only five non-military persons wore
admitted to the order, namely, Yoltaif ©., Maupertixis^ AJgarotti, the